Leucistic Willow Warbler
On the late evening of 27th May 2010, Duncan and I were (unsuccessfully) looking for Common Sandpipers on the Garnock River near Dalry, North Ayrshire, Scotland, when I saw a small white bird fly up from just in front of the car. We got out of the car to see if we could see it again.
It flew around the area a couple of times, then wasn't seen again, but as other passerines in the area had already stopped singing, it seemed probable that it had gone to roost. We both noticed that it had insects in its beak and surmised that it might be feeding young close by.
Overnight, not having had great views of the bird, we came to different conclusions. Duncan thought it might be a leucistic Robin, but I thought it was probably an escaped very pale Canary.
The following day, we returned. Soon after our arrival, the bird showed itself again. It didn't take long for us to discover that it was a leucistic male Willow Warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus, which had paired with a 'normal' female (bottom two photos) and was taking food into a nest about 10m from where we had originally parked the night before!
As the nest site was in vegetation on a river bank right next to a busy bridge, the birds were very unafraid, and the click of two cameras didn't disturb them a bit. Here are some of the many photos we took.
Returned: June 2011
Leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in animals and humans. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin.
Wikipedia article on Leucism
Leucistic WW on Mull 2004
Text and images copyright © Liz Leyden and Duncan M. Watt 2010